Extending Enterprise WANs into Carrier-Neutral Locations May Lower Costs, Boost Performance and Speed Turn-up of Cloud Services

Joel Stradling
Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Equinix Performance Hub – building enterprise WANs around the company’s data centres – makes its appeal around improved network performance and application delivery.
  • The advantages of extending a WAN into carrier-neutral exchanges include easy access to cloud-ready services and arbitrage on network traffic, but exchanges cannot do everything a dedicated WAN provider can.

On March 5, 2014, Equinix announced an initiative to launch Performance Hub, a solution that lets enterprises re-architect their WANs around the company’s International Business Exchange data centres.  The service promises a host of improvements for enterprises, including simplified cloud deployments, an optimized network and better quality of experience (QoE).  Equinix explicitly targets the enterprise segment with Performance Hub; the solution is initially available in North America, with a global launch planned in the near future.  According to the company, existing customers for its Performance Hub architecture include Chevron, eBay and Nvidia.  The company is also touting additional enhanced cloud connectivity through Performance Hub, as Equinix can plug enterprises directly into premium web-based apps, and to cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services and MS Windows Azure.

Network providers that have been providing premium connectivity to the cloud can fairly argue that this is all old hat.  Orange Business Services, for example, launched VPN Galerie several years ago, created with a similar concept in mind: delivering cloud-ready WAN services to customers which plug into Orange data centres, where applications developers are already in place to give a rapid switch-on for cloud services.  Equinix’s move is interesting in that it shows the rise of non-telco style businesses, in particular carrier-neutral data centres, Internet exchange points (IXPs), Ethernet exchanges and so on, offering cloud-ready extensions of WAN services.  The mass migration to the cloud is shaking up the stronghold of carriers which offer secure, high-performance WAN solutions as an alternative to best-effort Internet access to the cloud.  However, these cloud-centric operators are not proven managers of complex, dynamic enterprise networks.  Basic block and tackling such as handling regular moves, adds, changes, disconnects and reconfigurations that may be easy in the cloud is not a point-and-click affair when it involves equipment, infrastructure and services to customers’ end office addresses.

We recommend enterprise IT managers start to explore this area and see what is available in local and global markets.  At first, extending the WAN to a carrier-neutral location may be just a way to gain some negotiation leverage with primary network suppliers on bandwidth costs.  To this end, Equinix boasts connectivity to 975 networks, 450 cloud providers and 600 IT service providers.  However, there will likely be more benefits further down the way, for customers looking for low-cost, high-performance connectivity to the cloud and between cloud services.

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